Artsakh should be directly involved in negotiation process – FM Masis Mayilyan’s interview to ARMENPRESS
YEREVAN, DECEMBER 15, ARMENPRESS. Foreign minister of the Republic of Artsakh Masis Mayilyan gave an interview to ARMENPRESS talking about Artsakh’s foreign policy agenda, the negotiation process over the Karabakh-Azerbaijani conflict and Artsakh-EU cooperation.
-Mr. Mayilyan, what are the main issues of Artsakh’s foreign policy agenda and your priorities as the new foreign minister of Artsakh on solving the problems existing in the field?
-In October 2017 Artsakh’s political and socio-economic development program was presented by President of Artsakh Bako Sahakyan which also has a reference to the priority directions of the Artsakh foreign policy agenda.
The efforts of the foreign ministry will be mostly directed towards developing and strengthening the existing positive trends in the process of international recognition of Artsakh’s independence and ensuring its irreversibility. In particular, steps will be taken aimed at expanding the geography of Artsakh’s recognition and establishing a bilateral cooperation with subjects that recognized us. The development of ties at decentralized cooperation formats will enable to implement different programs in the fields of culture, education, sports, economy and local self-governance.
The foreign ministry of Artsakh will continue the consistent works on recognizing the right to self-determination exercised by Artsakh as a base for the peaceful settlement of the Karabakh-Azerbaijani conflict. Resisting the Azerbaijani attempts to isolate Artsakh is especially significant on the background of Azerbaijan’s unconstructive stance on the conflict settlement. Creation of external favorable conditions for the Republic’s economic development and attracting investments is one of our priorities. In order to solve this problem the Artsakh foreign ministry closely cooperates with the country’s ministries and structures responsible for the economic bloc.
One of the key directions of the Artsakh foreign policy agenda is also the further expansion and deepening of the Armenia-Artsakh-Diaspora cooperation. We highly appreciate the Diaspora’s contribution to development and strengthening of Artsakh and protection of its interests abroad, and at the same time, we consider important Artsakh’s participation in the process of preservation of the Armenian identity in the Diaspora.
One of the main components of the country’s foreign political activity is to make the international community informed about the Artsakh issues and maintain the country’s positive image. In this sense the foreign ministry plays a key role, and we will continue the active works on this path. Artsakh’s diplomatic service is engaged in the implementation of the mentioned issues, programs and other foreign policy initiatives.
-On October 16 the meeting of Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents was held, but before this period and following it, the border tension again increased, there were shots and casualties. Thereafter, the co-chairs’ meeting with the foreign ministries of the two countries was held. In future as well meetings are expected. In the context of these border incidents how do you assess the effectiveness of such meetings?
-The meetings of Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents and foreign ministers are important in terms of reducting the tension in the conflict zone. The restoration of the negotiation process in full format is possible only in case of stability. Thus, at this stage the issue of irreversibility of the peace process is important for which the 1994 and 1995 agreements should be strictly maintained, as well as the agreements reached during the negotiations should be implemente, which mainly relate to the installation of investment mechanisms of incidents, expanding the Office of the personal representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and increasing his monitoring capacities. The implementation of these actions will create a constructive environment to continue the negotiations.
-The issue of bringing Artsakh to the negotiation table has repeatedly voiced. Will Artsakh’s involvement solve any issue in case when one of the main factors hindering the progress of negotiations is that Azerbaijan refuses to implement the agreements reached previously aimed at forming trust between the sides, installing investigative mechanisms in the line of contact?
-Artsakh’s return to the negotiation table derives from the logic of the conflict settlement. Being as one of the main sides of the conflict recognized by the OSCE documents Artsakh should be directly involved in the negotiation process. I want to remind that the main achievements in the settlement process were recorded during the period when Artsakh was directly involved in the negotiations. In particular, the 1994 trilateral ceasefire agreement remains the only tangible achievement of the peaceful settlement process of the Karabakh conflict.
Azerbaijan’s refusal from the negotiations involving Artsakh is one of the components of Baku’s policy directed for the failure of the settlement process. The restoration of trilateral negotiations will demonstrate the political will and honest interest of the Azerbaijani leadership aimed at reaching the final settlement of the conflict. The return of the Artsakh delegation to the negotiation table will not only restore the disrupted format of the dialogue, but also will increase the effectiveness of the peace process. Artsakh’s full participation in all rounds of negotiations is important for the sides in terms of sharing the responsibility for the results of the peace process. The Artsakh authorities continue acting in support of the full participation in the process and are ready to de-jure take their share of responsibility for regional peace and the region’s fate in general.
-I would like you to comment on the meeting of Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu with the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs which was held in Ankara on November 29. The Turkish FM posted on Twitter expressing support to the Minsk process. Turkey regularly takes steps to intervene in the negotiation process. How would you comment on this? To what extent is it realistic?
-The mediation in the negotiation is possible, if the potential mediator has an impartial and neutral attitude towards all sides of the conflict, and the sides agree to accept its mediation services. That’s why Ankara’s attempts to act as a mediator are absolutely without any prospect. It’s known that Turkey has adopted a biased stance and completely supports one of the conflicting sides, Azerbaijan. Turkey is perhaps the only country which in 2016 publicly supported Azerbaijan’s April aggression against Artsakh, in case when the entire world and famous international structures supported ceasing the military operations as soon as possible. The only agreed format having an international mandate to conduct a mediation activity in the conflict settlement remains the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmanship, in the face of Russia, US and France.
-In Artsakh during the years of independence a generation grew up that exercised its right to self-determination and seeks to live in an independent country. In this regard how do you see the conflict settlement, which principles should be a priority and which fundamental rights should be laid in the basis of the conflict settlement?
-We think that the lasting settlement of the conflict is possible if the sides and international mediators accept the results of the Artsakh people’s exercise of the right to self-determination as a base for the settlement. 26 years ago, on December 10, the independence referendum was held in Artsakh during which the Artsakh people determined their development path. The choice of living in an independent state was twice affirmed during the 2006 and 2016 referendums. The independence of Artsakh is an irreversible reality and an exceptional value which is not subject to bargaining.
-During one of the discussions on EU-Artsakh cooperation in Brussels you announced that the EU-Artsakh cooperation will play a stabilizing role and will be an important contribution to establishing a lasting peace in South Caucasus. What steps are being taken to promote this cooperation?
-The cooperation supposes steps towards each other. We have repeatedly expressed our readiness to cooperate with the EU. During the Presidential delegation’s visit to Brussels a number of fields were outlined where the Artsakh-EU cooperation can be maximally depoliticized. Such spheres are development of civil society institutions and independent journalism, assistance to improving judiciary, healthcare and education. Another prospective field of cooperation can be the assistance to improving the local self-governance. In fact, the EU cooperation with Artsakh will contribute to strengthening peace and stability in our region. It will also help overcoming the feeling that political calculations and considerations have started to dominate the idea of promoting democratic values and human rights.
Interview by Syuzi Muradyan